Archive for August, 2008

une religieuse, un éclair

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

religieuse_ptc.jpg

August’s Daring Bakers challenge was the humble yet heavenly éclair, which consists of a pâte à choux or cream puff, pastry cream and chocolate glaze. The éclair (which is French for lightning) is traditionally piped into a long form, such as the one pictured below. The same dough can be used for profiteroles, or the French pastry la religieuse, such as the one pictured above, among other varieties.

I thought I would attempt to make the beautiful religieuses I have admired in Laduree’s windows in Paris. I was pleased with the results. The religieuse is one large pastry cream-filled profiterole topped by a smaller one, both glazed with fondant/glaze. It supposedly resembles a nun, hence the name. I used the chocolate glaze, firmed in the refrigerator, to pipe the chocolate spikes around the sides. The éclair below is filled with vanilla pastry cream and fresh raspberries, topped with chocolate glaze and chocolate decorations.
eclair_ptc.jpg

These éclairs were absolutely delicious and relatively easy to make, especially the dough. The multi-step chocolate glaze was perhaps the most tedious element, and the second time, I made a simple chocolate ganache which worked well. I made the éclairs twice this month, though I only photographed my first batch. I have a feeling I will be making these often.

To see what other Daring Bakers have done, click here.

the slice that almost slipped away

Monday, August 25th, 2008

pbmoussecake2_ptc.jpg

This is a cake that almost never made it to my blog. In the frenzy of preparing for my husband’s birthday celebration, I forgot to photograph the star of the party – this peanut butter and chocolate mousse cake – before it was sliced and devoured! Fortunately, I was able to save the last piece for this photo.

My husband’s favorite cake (coincidentally, the one got me started with this whole with this whole baking thing) is a chocolate cake with peanut butter mousse, dulce de leche and bananas. This year, I modified it, incorporating the main flavors into a lighter cake more suitable, perhaps, for summer. This cake is almost bakeless to boot, which is a welcome relief from the the oven heat in the summer. The layers from the bottom up: a chocolate cookie crust, peanut butter mousse, dulce de leche chocolate mousse surrounded sliced bananas, ganache, decorations of chocolate shavings, peanut butter and dulce de leche sauce.

I was concerned about the proportion of chocolate/peanut butter mousse to cake (or the lack thereof of cake), but it far surpassed my expectations and turned out to be light and absolutely perfect as a summer cake. Guests went for seconds and thirds. People defied their dairy allergies and vegan principles to eat this cake (I felt a bit guilty about that, but I didn’t exactly force them). So yes, it was a big hit.

Hopefully I will make this again and eventually post the recipe – I’ve been baking more based on instinct rather than precise measurements (I know, pastry is supposed to be such a precise art) and modifed various recipes as I was making.

*UPDATE*

To all those readers asking for recipes, I am sorry to say I have still not made this cake again since this post and would not feel comfortable posting the measurements based on memory. You could recreate this cake using your favorite recipes for the various components – chocolate cookie crust, chocolate mousse, peanut butter mousse, chocolate glaze, etc. I try to post recipes when I can, but this blog is more about documenting the things I’ve made and providing inspiration.